June 11, 2015

You can't do that anymore: Seinfeld, Political Correctness and the death of comedy

Mindy AlterRebel Blogger
 

In light of Jerry Seinfeld's remarks about political correctness on ESPN (Seinfeld told host Colin Cowherd - great name, no? - that he won't appear at universities due to the P.C. and its deleterious impact on the freedom to laugh,) it occurred to me that poor Jerry Seinfeld (even though he's as rich as Croesus) is pretty much an anachronism. 

He's a man who, in the more free-wheeling, less-fraught atmosphere of the 1990s, was able to thrive but who, due to what one might call a climate change, is no longer in sync with the times. In a way, he's like an old Borscht Belt comedian - Shecky Green, say - trying to keep his career alive in the harsh environment of the comedy clubs.

Oh, sure, Seinfeld has his "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" shtick on the Internet. And sometimes it's even funny. But Seinfeld's brand of observational humour, a hilarity which depends on looseness and free association and which therefore has the potential to "offend" and hurt "feelings," has fallen victim to the petty Robespierres who are not - who are never - amused by such jests.

And if you think about it, Seinfeld, the TV show that proudly touted its M.O. - it was a show "about nothing" and no "special" episodes delivering tears or "messages" were ever permitted - could never be made today. In fact, I'm surprised that some of the episodes, which are still shown in rerun today, haven't elicited more of an outcry from aggrieved victim groups. Some of the episodes in question include the following:

1) The Chinese Woman: In this episode, Jerry is infatuated with a woman named Donna Chang. He thinks she's Chinese, but when he meets her he discovers that she is Jewish and has changed her named from "Changstein." The joke here is that, apparently because of her name change, she adopts stereotypical "Chinese" behavior "such as displaying interest in acupuncture or on one occasion pronouncing a word with a Chinese accent." Pretty funny, eh? Well, not in our time, when, for example, director Cameron Crowe recently apologized for having Emma Stone, a whitebread chick, play a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Hawaiian woman in his movie Aloha.

2) The Cigar Store Indian: Jerry has the hots for a Native American chick named Winona, but the relationship comes to a sticky end when, to make amends to Elaine, with whom he's been fighting, he buys her a wooden cigar store Indian. Much hilarity - and offending Natives - ensues. Could this episode have been made in our Truth and Reconciliation Commission times? I think not.

3) The Doorman: This is the one in which Kramer invents his foundation garment for men, "the Bro" or "Manssiere." Groups that might take affront from this one include feminists, who shun bras as being symbolic of male chauvinistic oppression, and "trans" women, are in the process of rejecting the male body into which they were born and who embrace the bra as a symbol of what it means to be a "real" woman.

4) The Maid: George hires a maid and ends up paying her for sexual instead of cleaning services. Cue the outcry from women in the "sex trade!"

5) The Soup Nazi: He's a Nazi in the sense that he's a surly and authoritarian purveyor of unbelievably delectable soups, not in the sense of being a member of the Third Reich who pledges allegiance to the dictator who unleashed WW2 and the Holocaust. How "insensitive" to those who suffered because of real Nazis!

I could go on - and on - but you get the picture. The only thing I would add is that in our crazy, Obama-and-ISIS-and-nuclear-mullahs world, the world of Caitlyn Jenner on the tube and "triggers" and "micro-agressions" on the campus, a "show about nothing" is, on the one hand, completely anachronistic. Then again, one cannot help but feel nostalgic for those simpler, pre-9/11, pre-Internet times, when the jihad and social media were not on our radar.

 

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Comments
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commented 2015-06-14 21:17:49 -0400
I’ve noticed much the same thing. A radio morning show host in Regina, when he was first getting started many years ago used to do a character called “Uncle Buck” in some skits. Buck was a pedophile, and there was much hilarity! Don’t hear from old Buck much anymore. I think (not sure) that the radio personality is still around, but Buck, I think we’ve heard the last from him, years and years ago. I put this out there as an example of where humour can outlive it’s tastefulness/acceptability in certain circumstances. But if you want a taste of what it used to be like before it became homogenized, check out All in the Family. There are things on that show that would never, ever be allowed today!
commented 2015-06-12 20:27:46 -0400
half hour comedies? i avoided thanks to junk like friends, so seinfeld i am afraid ignored it as well. bad descsion i am afraid. now what jerry. so scary with the environmental lying movement, politically correct dingdongs what can someone with common sense and a sense of humour do. please fight back because common sense and laughing out loud are great regardless of critics. hope jerry this was not a ploy to get me to watch the re-runs. okay it worked.
commented 2015-06-12 20:27:46 -0400
half hour comedies? i avoided thanks to junk like friends, so seinfeld i am afraid ignored it as well. bad descsion i am afraid. now what jerry. so scary with the environmental lying movement, politically correct dingdongs what can someone with common sense and a sense of humour do. please fight back because common sense and laughing out loud are great regardless of critics. hope jerry this was not a ploy to get me to watch the re-runs. okay it worked.
commented 2015-06-12 08:00:06 -0400
Mark Twain lost the biggest fortune ever earned (up to that time) by an American author by investing in what was to become the linotype machine…..then he earned it back twice over by becoming a stand up comedian .

Here are some of his brilliant insights on humour…

http://www.twainquotes.com/Humor.html

“The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.”

So it would seem the politically correct have achieved Heaven on Earth through the elimination of humour….I for one am not finding that funny.
commented 2015-06-11 21:16:34 -0400
The mind controllers have always been fascists. It’s a meltdown. We need to stand-up to the control freaks. Nothing but fascists in the guise of minority discrimination. PC, ‘political (in)correctness’ or ‘Progressive Communism’ to intimidate (break you down), society first, then full-blown communism. Diversity and sensitivity training started by the LGBT community and ‘feminazis’. It’s meant to send a chill to make you silent. Ironically, to single out and discriminate, squelching free speech. To even take the lead from individuals who have contributed virtually nothing to society but reserve the right to keep free speech for themselves.

Males, for one, have been targeted to feminize them over the last 40 years through drugs, shaming, and social engineering. It’s a torrent of bullying from the fascist brigades. Bullying Christians, heterosexuals and whites. Why do gays think it’s their right to tell everyone how to live? Because it’s about radically changing the culture, not equality, and we accommodate them. The courts are poisoned and stacked with left-wing extremists. Manufactured racism, sexism, discrimination and weakness are often used as a weapon against successful, talented and driven people. Competition makes a nation great and is the bane of evil and tyranny. Yet in small doses, bit by bit, your individuality and freedom is stolen from you until the big swindle is complete or repelled. A nation that’s lost it’s ability to laugh at itself, it’s sense of what good-natured humour is, is a nation lost.